Johannes Schebler and his main project, Baldruin, is not a novice by any means. Having four albums solo and countless split-albums, this project is not just interesting in that regard – but also because of the aesthetics he includes with his music. It surely marks the experimentalism that can be found in his music as well, in a good way. Oftentime the artists and bands whom go under that banner don’t really make it this well aesthetically. It is pleasant to look at. So, in regards to this album which is his fifth release, it is intriguing to find out that Black Horizons, Aetheric Records and Cloister Recordings US made it possible for release on vinyl – all three labels represent good artistry.
The release itself clocks in at around forty minutes in total. What is interesting about the album itself is that it follows his – since long – short adaptation of tribalistic ambient industrial music. Let’s head into this.
“Opfergabe” gets straight to the point, through a muffled and calm atmosphere at first – descending upon the listener with a concrete setting in which this song turns into somewhat of a hymn. There are vocal representations that make it alluring, always accompanied by a steady and not too harsh rhythm – continually shifting the atmosphere around from being rambunctious to softening up and disappearing out of sight. An enjoyable slab of industrialized ambient.
“Ins Jenseits” is definently more percussive. Fast, tribalistic drumming, an ever increasing heartbeat that go with the rhythm – to the disturbing voice of a child, amidst tribal chanting. It feels like there’s a part of someone’s life being played in reverse, at the same time as the sound gets more and more intimidating. A father, having lost something into the eternal void, having lost much of his life – it feels like it has been all for nothing. Everything was meant to turn out good but instead turned into a complete horror story.
“Das Vergessene Grab” is meditative – but also more retrofuturistic – there are synthesizers that play a bigger part in the music itself. Concentrating more on the ambient landscape. There’s something mysterious about the song, as the sweeps on the synth in combination with the ceremonial percussion become an interlude to the next song – “Im Auge des Sturms” – which almost completely strips the atmosphere of the nostalgic moments that could be felt previously. Even though it feels like a continuation, there is more of a focus on the rhythm of the song rather then the unfathomable reach of the bombastic synthesizers. It focuses a lot more on simpler melodies, there’s one which is with the listener up until the end of the song – slowly evaporating into monotone noise.
“Wächter” is from the beginning a sample-based cliché. Until the marvelous synthesizer rings out with an emotional melody. It is joined with the sudden barks of a dog, screeching sounds and a troublesome, intensive melody that pushes the atmosphere further – as if something out of a 80’s/90’s futuristic action flick. The steady rhythm of the massive synthesizer is what makes this song intense – and enthralling from the first tone to the last one.
“Hydra“, the next song and the sixth one on this release delves into the same character of the first songs. It kind of becomes annoying with the tribalistic elements at times but it is saved by the chanting of a woman, in german of course, adding a sinister touch which gives the song a completely different edge in the end. The attention to detail of every sound in this song is immaculate. Of all the songs so far – this one is designed the best as it brings out the wondrous nature of each sound – as well as the more horrific one(s).
“Der Puppenspieler” is too simple, but the added samples make it far more interesting then it should’ve been in the first place. It is an ode to the more emotional side of Baldruin – the positive, nostalgic, tearjerking side of his music. Even though the experimentalism of it is overwhelming at times and the atonal side of it becomes a little too much – Johannes really shows how nice industrial music, with ambient foreground, can be when synthesizers are utilized properly.
“Zone 77” is really captivating. You really feel how complex the music is and how hard it must’ve been to fit the off-beat rhythm to the atmosphere. Pads of majestic sound is laid upon the song with much care. As rough as it sounds, there’s also something delicate about it. You’re hypnotized by the clash of harshness against the soft, picturesque landscape it portrays. How is it even possible to create anything like this? There’s a minimalism and a maximalism. Everything is oxymoronic about it but yet impressively joined together.
“Raum ohne Sicht” is psychotic. The intro is off-putting. It feels like a warning, it conveys feelings of utter disgust. Rarely have I ever shrugged away from a song that is so well made, but in this case it is just too disturbing to listen to in full. Here’s a song that would fit well to any story that includes the most horrible of human nature. “Falsche Fährte” is really beautiful and the complete opposite. Even though much of the rhythm isn’t that interesting to begin with, the atmosphere becomes increasingly intense and the more you hear beautifully laden female vocals, the more of a sense of pride is instilled within. The pride of knowing that someone could construct something this beautiful and convey these feelings. A song you really shouldn’t skip.
“Panik in der Fabrik” is really what the name says it is. Panic in the factory. In the beginning of it there’s a certain electronic body music influence that can be heard, but as it transgresses more into sample-based industrial music – the more disturbing it gets. There’s a certain two-facedness when it comes to the music on this album and Baldruin knows perfectly well how to pair it up musically. The contrasts are so knife-sharp that it is frightening. “ZüngeInde Flamme” seems to build off all the recent songs, transcending into something that feels very clear and represents the different characteristics perfectly. Subconciously, it is instilling a feeling of wanting more of the music as if the story progresses the further in you get. Even though there might not even be one to begin with.
“Fortgeschlichen” feels like an outro, even though there still are two songs left to be heard and dissected. It is dreamy, cosmic and far away – out of your own reach. It feels like you’re daydreaming and accessing remote locations, where men have never been before. A dreary landscape of sound is pumped up with the occassional pumping beats, noisy transmissions and overall increasingly experimental song. Though in the end it just fades away, bleakly. “Fund im Laub” is assembling the lost parts and making it into a behemoth of sound, as it sprinkles darkness around itself on the assembly line. Not the most intriguing song on the release so far, but the attention to detail for each sound is – as for some other particular songs – fantastic, to say the least.
“Vom Ende” is the real outro. It’s funny how it is the longest song on the whole release as well. Hopefully this more synthesizer-driven music is how his next release will progress in the future. One of the main strengths of this album, even though it is scarcely represented, is his way of handling the synthesizers and creating the most attentive songs of the release all-in-all. It went from a totally freaked out tribalistic ambient release to a futuristic synth venture and then away into screeching industrial music.
One can understand how this album would be of interest. He has more strengths then weaknesses. The whole album is of interest even though parts of it contain utterly disturbing portrayals of the human race as such – but in the end delivers a story which is created in your own mind while listening. It evokes something more then just feelings, it is cohesive and experimental at the same time, never loosing to one or the other. Buy the album from Baldruin himself, Black Horizons, Aetheric Records, or Cloister Recordings US. Listen to it digitally in its entirety down below.